Villa Tuscany Bagni di Lucca, story, Evangeline Whipple
Evangeline Marrs Whipple
Evangeline Marrs born in 1863 at Saxonville (Boston), married a very rich industrialist Michael Hodge Simpson. She was left a rich widow in 1885 and met Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, the sister of Grover Cleveland, then president of the Unites States with whom she began an intimate friendship. Rose Cleveland was 44 at the time and had been First Lady at the White House for 2 years. Their relationship cooled off when at the age of 33, in 1896 Evangeline married the 64 year old Episcopal Bishop of Minnesota, Henry Benjamin Whipple. The bishop was famous for his dedication to the Indians. It was the age of the conflicts between the Sioux and Sitting Bull and the American federalists, a part of history that we all have heard about. With him she established herself in the city of Faribault, seat of his bishopdom, and participated actively in her husband’s work.
She was left widowed again in 1901. Towards 1910 she visited Bagni di Lucca, taking residence at the Continental Hotel and later bought casa Bernardini at Bagno alla Villa, where she starter to live with her re-found friend Rose Cleveland and with the writer and illustrator Nelly Ericksen.
During the years of the first world war and especially after the intervention of the United States, she along with her two friends became an un-tiring organizer of aid work for the families of townspeople called to arms. Her charitable spirit however became manifest above all when after the military disaster of Caporetto in 1917, a penniless group of refugees were invited to Bagni di Lucca, she organized at her own expense a boarding school for the children of these people run by the Stimmatine nuns, which took in around one hundred children. In 1918 the Spanish flu, which cost six million deaths in Europe, claimed the lives of her two friends who both died in the same week and were buried in the English cemetery in Bagni di Lucca, where today it is still possible to visit their tombs. Evangeline Whipple wrote a lovely book on Bagni di Lucca entitled «A Famous Corner of Tuscany », published in London in 1928, in which she concentrated mostly on describing the famous people that passed their summers in the resort.
During this period, Having bought the property from the Burlamacchi, she completely restored the so called small house, “Casa Piccola” (now Villa San Francesco), situated opposite the garden which is on the back of the large house “Casa Grande” owned by the Burlamacchi, The Small House had its own separate access which a nice stone drive which leads down the Piazza del Bagno and its Thermal Baths.
She died in London in 1930, but wanted her body to be laid to rest in Bagni di Lucca next to the tombs of the two friends who had proceeded her.